Michael Owen has slated Newcastle United in his new book and suggested that the club is delusional about its status in the English game. The 39-year-old spent four largely anonymous seasons at St James’ Park, netting 30 goals from 79 appearances during an injury-ravaged stint at the club.
Having left Liverpool in 2004 for one season at Spanish giants Real Madrid, the man who scored 40 goals for England decided to join the Magpies in a move that raised more than a few eyebrows.
Initial optimism in the stands was replaced by frustration as the Chester-born striker spent far too much time on the treatment table and only played 14 times across his first two years in the north east.
The fans eventually had enough, turning on the diminutive forward and he left to join Manchester United in 2009 to play only a bit-part role at Old Trafford.
He was never able to recapture the sparkling form that he showed in his formative years at Anfield and with the Three Lions, eventually hanging up his boots in 2013.
Never that popular at Newcastle, Owen will now be public enemy number one after his latest diatribe against the club. “From a career perspective, there was no doubt in my mind that a move to the North East was a downward step,” he said in his book being serialised by the Daily Mirror. “As unpalatable as that opinion might be to Newcastle fans, that’s more or less what I felt.”
With the way Newcastle has been run under Mike Ashley, there is probably some truth to Owen’s words but it is unlikely that he will ever be welcome back by the Toon Army.
Rafa Benitez managed to keep their heads above water but, with Steve Bruce now at the helm, there is a real worry that relegation might be a possibility next May.
For many, that would seem unfathomable but Owen believes that the club is only big in terms of numbers and infrastructure and certainly not status.
Speaking about then club owner Freddy Shepherd, he added: “They (owners) believe their club is 10% bigger and their team is 10% better than it actually is. “This kind of blind delusion is especially true of Newcastle United – which, as I reach for the nearest tin hat, is only a big club in the sense that it has a lot of fans and a big stadium.”
The players will doubtless use his statement as motivation and try to make their former player eat his words as the campaign progresses.